Golf carts may soon be allowed on secondary streets

BURTON — City council may consider allowing golf carts on secondary city streets after the legislative committee voted to have an ordinance drafted and sent to council at its June 7 meeting.

The committee voted unanimously to have City Attorney Amanda Doyle prepare an ordinance which mirrors the state ordinance governing golf carts on secondary streets.

While this would allow golf carts, Legislative Committee Chairman Greg Fenner said it does not include All-Terrain Vehicles or Off-Road Vehicles.

“We’re only addressing golf carts here tonight,” said Fenner. “One of the rules governing golf carts is a 15-mph maximum speed limit. They cannot go on roads (where the speed limit exceeds) 30 mph. They cannot be driven on sidewalks. They may be driven by 16-year-olds or older with a valid driver’s license. These are all state rules we will have to abide by when creating an ordinance.”

He said there are other things the city can add to the ordinance, such as requiring permits policy, brake lights or headlights, but it must keep those key rules as spelled out by the state.

John Horton, a resident of the city’s Killarney Park neighborhood, said he and other residents there use golf carts to get around the neighborhood, which is a secondary street.

“We use them, we enjoy them. We don’t have a golf course, but we do have a little private lake and we use (golf carts) to help with access,” he said. “They’re useful besides just running around. I would ask that secondary streets or at least neighborhoods be considered to give us some leeway.”

Aaron Hartley, Horton’s neighbor, also spoke at the meeting and said they are useful for the homeowner’s association to use for maintenance around the neighborhood and at the private lake in the Killarney Drive area.

“We use the golf carts to get around, visit the lake, we use them to haul shrubs and such.” Said Hartley. “We just finished our cleanup with them. I use mine to get my kid out to his bus stop. I’m vaguely familiar with some of the ORV laws, but I ask that you consider secondary roads.”

Burton resident Don Jones said there have been golf carts on the streets in his neighborhood and he is not in support of changing the ordinance.

“In one particular instance it was all young kids and they were probably a little bit unsafe,” said Jones. “It’s one of those things where its probably going to be difficult to manage or enforce that and I don’t think you want those new Razor’s running up and down the road, because if we think they’re probably going to go 25 mph in a residential area, that’s probably not going to happen.”

Fenner said the city has done some research and there are a number of state laws governing golf carts Burton officials cannot change.

He said the city can write an ordinance that will allow golf carts, as long as it does not exceed the state ordinance because the city was last reported to have a population under 30,000 in the 2010 Census.

Councilman Tom Martinbianco asked if there was a way for residents who live on main roads to drive their golf carts along those routes until they can reach a secondary street.

Doyle said no exception can be made. People driving golf carts can cross a major road, or ride on a path – not to be confused with the shoulder of the road – alongside a major road, but they cannot drive on any road where the speed limit is in excess of 30 mph.

Fenner made the motion to have an ordinance prepared and sent to the city council for consideration. The three-member legislative committee consisting of Fenner, Martinbianco and Councilwoman Tina Conley all voted in favor.

“We’re trying to be proactive and neighborly and I think this is a good way to start,” said Martinbianco. “But, if there are problems and the police department can relate that to the council, we’ll have to revisit this.”

The ordinance could be ready for consideration by city council by the June 21 meeting.